Tips for Helping Your Child Adjust After Divorce

Divorced Father Walking with Children in Huntington Beach, CA

There’s just no way around it; divorce is hard on kids. It’s not easy for the parents, either, of course. After your divorce, though, there are some specific things you can do to help your children adjust. Here are our top 5 tips for helping your child adjust after the divorce:


Don’t badmouth your Ex.

One of the hardest things that couples need to learn to do during a bitter divorce is to be quiet about your ex. Badmouthing, or talking negatively about your ex to your children can have toxic lasting effects on your children. Listen, I know it’s hard and it takes a lot of discipline and self-control to control your tongue, but I urge you to do it not only for your children’s mental health but for yours as well.

Consider the words of Buddha, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”


Be consistent.

Children of all ages typically do best with a consistent routine; many children even crave structure. As much as you can, try to create consistent routines between both households; a unified set of rules, consistent bedtime, and a schedule the child can depend on will all go a long way towards developing your child’s new sense of normal.

It’s also worth noting here that it has been found to be important to kids’ well-being that they spend as close to equal time as possible with both parents, regardless of age or whether your child is a girl or boy. Understandably this is not feasible for all families, but keep it in mind for your child’s best interest.


Consider working with a family therapist.

Children are often freer to express their true feelings with a therapist than they are their parents, and they stand to learn a great deal on coping and adjusting from a family therapist who is experienced in working with divorcing families. Therefore, it’s not necessary to wait until your child is verbalizing or demonstrating adjustment issues. Attending therapy proactively can help prevent your child from experiencing a deeper level of angst and anxiety after the divorce.

And, while you’re at it, consider finding a therapist for yourself as well! Don’t believe the stigma that only weak people need to talk to a therapist.


Create a transition ritual.

As adults, we have usually developed the ability to roll with the punches and adapt as life requires us. For children, however, it’s not that easy. Living in two different homes can be a huge, difficult adjustment for kids, so a transition ritual can be very helpful in some situations.

A transition ritual involves creating a structured and predictable environment for your child every time they enter or leave your home. When children know what to expect, it can really lessen the anxiety that often comes with switching homes. Anything from coloring to backyard playtime, to putting together puzzles or a pizza dinner can work. The options are limitless, really.

When designing your transition ritual, think specifically about your children and match the activity to their personality and energy levels. If you have multiple children, this can take some time to find one that works for all three, but keep trying.


Practice good self-care.

Similar to how airlines will tell you to “put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others”, it is critical for you to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others…specifically your children. Divorce can easily send the most even-keeled parents into a tailspin of stress and anxiety. We all know that stressed and anxious parents don’t parent their absolute best.

The advice may sound mundane: get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, exercise, eat well and have a social support network, but the results are far from mundane. Taking good care of yourself means that you can take good care of your kids.